What does Hair Mean to You ?

The Fall semester of 2015, Tanaya Cardenales lead one of the Hot Topic Session for Umoja, the Black Student Union at Connecticut College. She shared this video to open up the discussion to answer the following questions pasted below the video.

  • Why does hair have a big significance within the black community ?
  • Do you feel as though women of color are hiding their culture by wearing wigs ?
  • Do you feel like hair is used against the black community ?

After multiple people answered the questions above, Tanaya handed out index cards and pencils and everyone in the meeting had to answer “what good hair was or what it meant to them”. Once everyone answered the questions on the index cards, the index cards were collected. The index cards were then randomly passed out to members to read out loud. The answers are pasted below.

“ Hair acts as a visible display of identity, as people identify as having long or short hair, or straight or curly hair.”

“ My thoughts about good hair as a guy are having a clean line up, tidy, and professional looking. When I was younger, I wasn’t that concerned but as I got older I cared about it more when my friends started caring about it more.”

“It’s sad I think to see how strongly our society favors the hair of white people over the hair of black people. I wonder is the video is a metaphor for people rather than just hair? Does that perspective come from parents? Peers? Movies? Everything? What doesn’t support that negative perspective?”

“Kids are victims of society. Their self-esteem is already destroyed”.

“Good hair means loving and enjoying the hair that you have whether natural or bought”.

“I was not really surprised. And I know that awful to say but I’ve seen this so many times. I use to be like one of these girls when I was younger, so I understand. But how I’ve learned to love my hair!”

“I think that for many people having good hair means having hair that is different than our own. We all get bored and annoyed with our own hair and want a change whether that be in texture or color. That being said in the larger American community straight blonde hair is often considered particularly great”.

“Good Hair: Straight, Soft, Long, Light. Bad Hair: Curly,Nappy,Puffy,Frizzy”.

“It doesn’t matter if a woman’s hair is natural or relaxed, for as long as women feel empowered. However, it is important for young girls to have positive imagery of natural hair to decolonize the mind of white respectability politics. Black men should also take a stand to stop degrading black women when their go natural”.

“I grew up in a mostly white community where most girls straightened their hair, but you weren’t judged if you didn’t. It’s sad to hear that so many girls feel this way”.

“ I think the time, effort, pain, and money put into making black hair more “mainstream” is so glossed over and underscored. That commitment adds up and long term can make such an invisible gap of inequity in daily success or productivity”.

“ Why must my hair mean so much to people? Yes I am mix, so”.

“ As a woman of color, I take pride in my natural hair, it is the embodiment of my power. I honestly feel like Bibical Samspon with my hair. The thicker the better, I personally am opposed to treating my hair with chemicals”.

“Good hair = healthy hair. Hair has a story in the black community and sets them apart from others. Black hair is beautiful hair”.

“ My hair is low maintenance and my friends use to tell me it was my best quality. I have friends that spend lots of money on hair products and treatment to fit the standard of beauty in society. Because of my privileged of having hair that is good in society I do not have much knowledge about hair of other people”.

“ Good hair and bad hair are terms I don’t think should exist. All hair is equal”.

“Where did this idea of ‘Good hair’ come from ?”

“That is how I felt during my childhood and although I no longer think that way I am still very self-conscious and not comfortable with my natural hair”.

“Perspectives of black hair have changed overtime. Children today would probably be okay with having the hair that the children pointed at. Do you agree ?”

“Breaks my heart, this is the most honest image of hair in American society. I feel that my hair is a personal statement of my freedom. There has been a push in the appreciation of longer hair.”

Question:  SO, WHAT IS GOOD HAIR TO YOU ?

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